More than 100 dogs and puppies have been released from a South Korean dog meat farm, the Humane Society International has announced. The NGO reached an agreement with the owner to close the farm in Chungcheongnamdo down for good and switch trades.
Large mastiffs, often considered to be "meat dogs" in South Korea, as well as jindo mixes, spaniel mixes and chihuahuas were rescued and all 103 dogs were flown to the US where they will be adopted into loving homes.
More than two million dogs are bred and killed each year as part of South Korea's dog meat trade, mostly on small-scale factory farms. The practice differs from China, where most dogs to be butchered are stolen from the streets.
Meat farm dogs have to spend their entire lives in small, filthy cages and are most commonly killed by electrocution. Human Society International (HSI) will launch a campaign to raise public awareness about the issue in South Korea.
HSI vice president Kitty Block said: "We hope to open a dialogue with the South Korean government. [...] When the Winter Olympics come to Seoul in 2018, the world will want to know that South Korea no longer tolerates dog meat cruelty."
Australian Sam Hammington, a famous reality TV star in South Korea, joined the rescue effort and praised farm owner Mr Kim's decision to quit the dog meat trade. Hammington said: "I would like to applaud and thank Mr Kim for making this brave and difficult decision to get out of the industry. It's not an easy decision, but he and his wife seem happy with their decision and I would like to wish them both luck in their new ventures."
Dog adoption is not yet widely established in South Korea but Human Society International hopes to see that change in the future by building a community of citizens who adopt former farm dogs into their homes.